My Internet: Kieran Press-Reynolds
The corecore chronicler took a canonical screenshot of Andrew Tate.
Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, written by Kate Lindsay and edited by Nick Catucci.
Most weeks, we quiz a “very online” person for their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome Kieran Press-Reynolds, a digital culture reporter at Insider who has charted the arc of corecore, a TikTok anti-trend of evanescent “chaos edits,” on the music blog no bells. Kieran thinks Snapchat has had a detrimental impact on kids’ social skills, uses his weather app to live vicariously through the deranged climate conditions of Kaoh Rong and Yakutsk, and will only listen to podcasts at nightcore speed. —Nick
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EMBEDDED: What’s a recent meme or other post that made you laugh?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I don’t know why but the collision of the music with this dance and “patato salad” really hit.
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EMBEDDED: What shows up on your TikTok For You page?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: It depends on the day. Sometimes it’s all parkour videos and Ice Spice memes. Other moments it’s Drain Gang memes, performative cringeposting [Read: Another tough watch, thanks], and jokes about the Brooklyn club scene. There are always some constants: cute animals, surreal shitposts, fiery edits with killer songs and mashups (sped-up “FreakyT,” Destroy Lonely x Crystal Castles, etc.).
I also get the most unhinged livestream recs, which is a side of TikTok I feel like people don’t talk about enough.
EMBEDDED: Has your Twitter experience changed since Elon Musk took over? What would it take for you to quit?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I’ve been flooded by content from people I don’t follow, especially right-wing accounts. Generally speaking, though, not much has changed, since my diet already consisted of a lot of far-right internet content through reporting on disinformation and conspiracy theories.
I’d quit if my friends left the website, since they’re pretty much the only reason I’m still somewhat active on there. I’ve found Twitter to be an amazing tool for meeting nice people—I’ve probably met over 20 real-life friends through the site in the last couple of years, which is worth the brain maggots received from reading the often exasperating comments on my timeline.
EMBEDDED: Have you found any good alternatives to Twitter?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: Going on hikes where there’s no service.
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: Primarily to stalk artists and forage for events. I also use it to chat with my groups. I pretty much only use Stories and messages. Notes was briefly joyous (I had a spontaneous conversation about ravioli with someone at 1 a.m.). I hate the timeline now, especially the way videos get priority and start blaring as soon as the app opens. Let me browse in contemplative silence.
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: Random digicore tracks, rap leaks, video game soundtrack mixes, high-level Mario Kart gameplay (it functions a bit like ASMR for me, but the insanely intricate strategies these players deploy are fascinating), running races.
EMBEDDED: Have you had posts go viral? What is that experience like?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I went viral recently after I wrote a (pretty generous) piece about this TikTok gym bro named Joey Swoll. The piece was about how he’s been accused of fueling misogyny because of his videos repeatedly calling out women who call out men at the gym. He penned a dissertation-length tweet about the article with my name front and center and it got over 20 million views. My phone lit up like a firework show: haters were spamming all my social media accounts with lame disses like “Kieran? More like Karen” and “LOL PRONOUNCE IN BIO.” Some people even found my dad’s Facebook and wrote “your son is a moron.” It was pretty funny.
This didn’t go viral in the pure metric sense, but I recently found out I took a screenshot of Andrew Tate looking bewildered that has since become a popular meme image. You never know what journalism is really going to matter.
EMBEDDED: Who’s the coolest person who follows you?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: The YouTuber Materialisimo, a legendary video editor. He was one of the most inventive and inspiring producers in the montage parody meme scene until he quit a few years ago.
EMBEDDED: Who’s someone more people should follow?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: billdifferen and Holly have very insightful thoughts about music and culture and have put me on to a lot of great songs.
EMBEDDED: Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I don’t really follow major celebrities like that, I’m more interested in what my friends and the artists I like are up to.
EMBEDDED: Where do you tend to get your news?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: Sometimes I feel like the sludge monster in Spirited Away choking on heaps of detritus. I feel like I’m constantly being pelted by pellets of news against my will—random headlines and sad little scooplets (disgusting word) on Twitter, Instagram infographics and meme shitposts, newsletters avalanching my inbox, texts from friends.
I don’t have any super organized process for getting news but I usually do a scan of publications and social media platforms when I’m looking for pitches at work in the morning.
EMBEDDED: What are your favorite Substack or other independent newsletters?
, David Turner’s Penny Fractions, no bells, Andrew Matson’s Finals, Miranda Reinert’s newsletter, Cole Toto’s , billdifferen’s blog, ’s substack, Tobias Hess’ , , Meaghan Garvey’s newsletter, Ryan Broderick’s Garbage Day.
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: Some of these are blogs: Embedded, Music Journalism Insider, Rainer Turim’s
EMBEDDED: What are your favorite media company newsletters?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I don’t follow any company newsletters.
EMBEDDED: What’s one positive media trend? What’s one negative trend?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: A side effect of the info-overload of the internet is that I’ve been inundated with really cool writing from unexpected places—there are tons of sick Substacks, TikTok essays, YouTube trend dissections, PDFs from random groups, and new voicey blogs. The gems can be difficult to discern from the jumble of everything, but I feel like I’m always discovering new writers.
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Conversely, it’s been mega depressing watching outlets doing inspiring original work like Real Life shutter, and the widespread layoffs slashing seemingly every corner of the industry.
EMBEDDED: Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I have a poor attention span when it comes to podcasts. I lose focus. If I’m in a position to listen to a podcast (like on the train or walking) I usually just won’t. If I have to listen to a podcast for research (or even a recording of an interview I just conducted, which feels similar to a podcast), I usually do it at nightcore speed. The only podcasts I’ve really enjoyed have been sonically pleasurable ones (ie soothing voices).
EMBEDDED: How has using LinkedIn benefitted you, if at all?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I love ragging on LinkedIn/the soulless networking culture around it (and those god-awful spaced motivational posts) but the first professional writing gig I ever got was through LinkedIn. I cold-messaged a bunch of editors at different pubs until a Highsnobiety editor got back to me and let me write a review. Shoutout Sydney Gore.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Do you miss it?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: When I was 14-17. I think Snapchat has had a real detrimental impact on kids’ social skills. I knew people in high school whose friendships were almost solely based on sending “streaks” to each other every day, and then saying pretty much nothing when they were actually in person. The functionality trained you to bypass verbal communication altogether and just send images of random shit to people. It was like the most skeletal form of acquaintanceship ever, but the aura of consistency that came with having a high streak gave you this fake sense of intimacy. It’s dumb. I remember tapping out after they introduced the map function because I found it creepy. The last time I thought about using Snapchat (a year or so ago) the vibes were apocalyptic. I scrolled over to the Discovery tab and I got jumpscared by all the clickbait.
EMBEDDED: When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I’ve never used Pinterest.
EMBEDDED: Do you have an opinion about Tumblr?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I wish I got into it when I was younger—as a “digital culture reporter” Tumblr is probably the one terrain/subculture I feel the most deficient in.
EMBEDDED: Are you in any groups on Reddit, Discord, Slack, or Facebook? What’s the most useful or entertaining one?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I’ve joined a slew of Facebook groups for work research, so my list is a smorgasbord: I’m in a page for the People’s Convoy (MAGA truckers), a community hub for Pembroke Dock (a tiny town in Wales), Parents Against CRT Central Oregon (I’m leaving) … plus stuff like Mark Fisher memes for hauntological teens, Bushwick buy/sell, and Cute Animals Being Very Jewish. I don’t participate in or read any of them.
I’m on Reddit a lot, mostly for research although it’s helpful for seeing what’s happening in specific subcultures. I used to be an active member of an “advanced” running page, where I would feverishly log all my cross country workouts and races in high school.
I’m not someone who usually joins internet groups but for some of my teen years I played online Survivor games. They’d usually run on Skype or Discord, and involve strangers participating in challenges with webcams and then voting each other off. You’d have to DM people to make alliances and secret group chats, and everyone was vicious. Players would spend hours on voice calls plotting strategy and becoming close friends, and then bamboozle each other without a second thought. Sometimes people even got into showmances (until the inevitable betrayal).
EMBEDDED: Do you typically start searches on Google, Reddit, TikTok, or another source? Have you tried AI-powered search on Bing or elsewhere?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I don’t think I’ve tried AI-powered search. I use Google, Reddit, TikTok, and Twitter depending on what I’m looking for.
EMBEDDED: Do you have any predictions for cryptocurrency, the metaverse, and/or Web3?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: The metaverse already exists: Poptropica. Everything else is a grift.
EMBEDDED: Are you currently playing any games on your computer or phone?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: The NYT mini crossword. I’m slowly accumulating a huge list of friends on the app. I’m also looking to be recruited by a professional mini crossword team so hmu if that’s you.
EMBEDDED: Do any of your group chats have a name that you’re willing to share? What’s something that recently inspired debate in the chat?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I’m in a group called the Book Squad. It started as the Event Squad and then Boo Squad, then Calendar Squad, and then somewhere along the way it became its present version. The group is amazing because we just add our friends and everyone spams the chat with cool events in the city, then we go. No books have been read yet.
EMBEDDED: What’s your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I don’t have any favorite emoji, but I have a strong aversion to some, like that goofy nerd-glasses one and double-star eyeballs guy. I like the in-disguise emoji because it reminds me of the “;_;” text emoticon (they’re both sort of otherworldly yet unassuming, anonymous and intriguing). When I’m feeling chaotic and affectionate I send people my bitmoji with the “LOUD” effect.
EMBEDDED: Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: Yeah, I love receiving and sending voice notes. The only problem is I can’t deal with them if they’re too long, I forget what the person said and then I gotta start over. I have to take notes like it’s a lecture.
EMBEDDED: What’s a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve listened to a lot lately?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: The wavy, frenzied corner of SoundCloud is thriving right now. There’s xaviersobased, tenkay, st47ic, kashpaint, truey, len333, noli, and even deeper: rachyl, universe, lecie, someone named JuiceBox. There’s no real umbrella name for this scene(s), if you can even call it a scene, and they pull from disparate influences—hints of Milwaukee rap, sigilkore, plugg, and EDM are scattered across the field—but the results are similarly lo-fi and candied, dizzy and disorienting.
For the first time in a while, I don’t feel like there’s any discrete subgenre I’m tunneling into. I’ve been pulling from all over the place: feeble little horse’s warm and impressionistic “Picture” and “Chores,” Lil Yachty’s ear-tingling “Pretty” (love how he replicates the fluttering vibrato from “Poland”), Popstar Benny and Tony Shhnow’s delirious sugar high “All the Girls<3.” quinn has a refreshing new EP out. I also really liked the wonky soundtrack for The Lying Life of Adults.
EMBEDDED: If you could only keep one streaming service for TV and/or movies, which would it be, and why?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: HBO Max (it’s unclear what direction the streamer is heading in, so this choice is more for the existing catalog of bangers than my faith in its future) and the Criterion Collection.
EMBEDDED: What’s your favorite non-social media app?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: The weather app. I love checking in on Kaoh Rong (they get thunderstorms constantly) and Yakutsk (cold as hell). I enjoy experiencing the most deranged and potentially life-threatening weather conditions … I live vicariously through the app.
Also the Transit app. I’m always shocked how many New Yorkers don’t have it. It’s a godsend.
EMBEDDED: What’s the most basic internet thing that you love?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: Raccoon-in-dumpster videos.
EMBEDDED: Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What’s a recent thing you’ve bought or sold?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: I don’t regularly use shopping platforms, but I used eBay a couple of years ago to sell the rarest cards in my childhood Pokemon collection. That experience sort of turned me off the whole thing. I ended up sparking a mini-beef with a customer because I labeled a couple of cards “Mint” when they were actually “Near Mint,” and the dude angrily sent them back and gave my account a low review, tanking my high rating. Real card collectors take the grading business seriously, as they should.
EMBEDDED: Have you recently read an article, book, or social media post about the internet that you’ve found particularly insightful?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: Kaitlyn Tiffany’s book on One Direction fandom. I generally enjoy reading reports and essays that capture on-the-ground, memoiristic experiences of internet use. I think that’s more informative and valuable than anything a tech expert or media analyst can tell you.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
KIERAN PRESS-REYNOLDS: Small things give me joy every day, but probably the last major trend to make me happy was PINKCOREE. It’s a sub-strain of corecore that was sort of the original corecore (before creators started tagging long gloomy montages as corecore and everything was conflated). The videos are usually only 15 seconds and feature wild blitzes of cute cats, video game clips, and internet music. Think 2007 pedestrian cat memes but filtered through 2023’s ultra-hyper portal of speed. Every colorful clip lasts a second before exploding, flashing, or crumbling into another. The experience of watching them back-to-back feels kind of like flying around a playground with a nitrogen jetpack. The subculture is mind-numbing and soul-nourishing, an oasis of sweet vibes.
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